Court settles zoning debate


The Point West 1 development project in Park Township is on track once again, following the Michigan Supreme Court’s announcement that it will not hear the case filed by a group of Macatawa Park cottage owners against the township regarding rezoning of the development site.

A group known as Macatawa Area Residents for Fair Development opposed Nan VanAndel’s 40-unit residential development project, based on what it called “erroneous density calculations.”

The group filed a lawsuit against Park Township in 2011, and after the Ottawa County Circuit Court ruled in favor of the township, it appealed the decision. The Michigan Court of Appeals rejected the appeal. The group then filed its request with the Michigan Supreme Court.

The group has claimed the area was mislabeled on the official zoning map in 2011 to reflect it as fully commercial, which led to the 40-unit calculation.

Ed de Vries, Park Township code compliance officer, agreed mistakes were made with several versions of the Park Township zoning map over the years, but disagreed the mistakes would have led to a different outcome in terms of the number of units granted.

He said the first mistake was made in 1976, when the township board approved a rezoning request for the contested area, but that rezoned portion was not included in the official zoning map. Later, another mistake led to maps that reflected a larger swath of the area as commercial than what should have been reflected.

Mark Harmsen, the owner’s representative for the Point West 1 development, said last week’s decision puts the matter “100 percent behind us.”

“This ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court puts an end, once and for all, to any lingering questions over zoning density,” Harmsen said.

“Every public body that has looked at this issue has unequivocally said that our residential development complies with all applicable laws, and we are pleased that the Michigan Supreme Court agreed.”

The developers plan to move forward aggressively with a marketing and sales plan that will expand its outreach efforts south along Lake Michigan and into Chicago.

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